Your social media photos should stand out and look professional - but we're not all experienced photographers!
I take all of my own photos for social media, which you can find here: @allwritemarketing. Stock images can be great - and time-saving - but I prefer my content to be totally unique.
If you want to start including your own photos in your content, here are five simple ways anyone can create great social media visuals.
1. Use your phone camera's settings
Most of us don't have access to expensive camera equipment, and that's completely fine! Today, our mobile phones have fantastic camera capabilities - you just have to know how to use them.
Here are a few to start mastering:
AF/AE Lock - This is the function that appears when you press and hold somewhere on the screen before taking a photo. It focuses on the area you've selected and stays focussed even if you move the camera. This is AF - Auto Focus. It'll also bring up options to lighten or darken the photo, so you can make sure the lighting is correct. This is AE - Auto Exposure.
Flash - Everyone knows about the flash function, but learning to use light well is so important! Try to take all your photos with flash and without. You'll find that sometimes the flash makes your photo look much better, and sometimes much worse. Practising taking photos with and without it will teach you to use lighting well.
Grid Lines - You can turn on grid lines in your settings, and use them to see where the subject and horizon are placed in your photo. This makes using the Rule of Thirds really easy - but we'll talk about that more below.
Pro Mode - This feature, available on many newer phones, allows advanced settings such as shutter speed and ISO. Once you're more comfortable taking photos with the easier functions, try it out and see the advanced changes you can make!
2. The Rule of Thirds
This simple rule will allow your photos to make sense to the human eye. Simply, it suggests that you look at your photo like a grid, split into thirds, creating parallel vertical and horizontal lines.
The rule suggests you line up the horizon in your photo with one of the two horizontal lines. You then place your subject at one of the four points where the lines intersect. This allows you to place everything in your photo where it will best draw the eye!
Remember, not all photos have to follow this rule. But, it's a great place to start if you're a beginner.
3. Have a plan before every photoshoot
Consider the who, what, when, where and why of the images you're capturing. Particularly, think of your target audience, the platform, and the post's purpose.
I spent far too long taking photos of random things, hoping they would be relevant enough to share on my social media. Once I started taking photos with specific themes, posts or blogs in mind, it became much easier to get inspiration and capture the right photos.
Once you know why you're taking the photo, come up with a subject and an exciting way to photograph it. Try to take a lot of photos at once, then use a social media scheduling tool to share them over time!
4. Make your photos unified with your brand
I vary my content, but always ensure it has elements of purple - the main colour I use in All Write's branding. I do this by using my own presets on Lightroom, and checking the look of my Instagram grid with Planoly. It gives my visuals unity and therefore makes my brand stronger and more memorable.
If you don't have Photoshop, Lightroom or other expensive editing tools, there are plenty of free apps out there. They also have filters available to help you get the right look!
I recommend trying these free and user-friendly apps:
A Color Story (editing and grid planning)
Nichi (story templates)
Preview (grid planning)
5. Fix the photo with simple editing tools
You can also use the above apps to make simple edits. Photos that are brighter and warmer tend to be more engaging than those that are dark and cold. These elements draw people in and invoke an emotional response, so people will associate these emotions with your brand, too!
For inviting, happy and peaceful images, edit your photos by increasing the exposure and temperature. You might also add contrast, and sharpen the photo to make it appear a higher quality. These small changes can make your posts more inviting to the eye, and therefore draw more attention.
Just be careful not to over-edit unless you know what you're doing! There's nothing worse than a photo completely ruined by oversaturation, a dark vignette, and a horrible filter!
For more help with Social Media and Branding, have a look at All Write's packages!